By Danielle Doiron
Winnipeg, MB – The University of Manitoba Bison men's basketball team had a chance to hand the #10 University of Alberta Golden Bears their first loss of the season, but the visitors came out on top, winning the close contest 88-85 at Investors Group Athletic Centre on Friday, Nov. 25 night.
With the win, the Golden Bears are 7-0, while the Bisons fall to 2-5 after their fourth loss in a row. Manitoba went 2-0 over Alberta last year, and the Bisons entered Friday having won three of their four last meetings against the Golden Bears.
"Defensively, I didn't think we fared all that well," Bison head coach Kirby Schepp said. "They shot very, very well … credit to them. They're probably one of the best shooting teams, maybe the best shooting team in the league, and they shot the ball really well.
"I thought we had some breakdowns defensively where they got a lot of looks inside. Their penetration gave us a lot of trouble in the second half."
Alberta guard Austin Waddoups led both sides with 31 points. Manitoba's Keith Omoerah had 18.
Offensively, the Bisons and Golden Bears looked evenly matched in the first quarter. Third-year Waddoups put up 10 points and two assists, while Manitoba's Justus Alleyn had nine points and one assist. The Bisons led 19-17 with 2:33 left in the first when the Golden Bears sunk a three-pointer and then a jumper to lead 22-19 heading to the second.
Alleyn and then Omoerah sunk jump shots in the first two minutes of the second to give the Bisons back the lead, but it was short-lived. The visitors countered with two baskets from Brody Clarke and an Andre Kelly three-pointer to jump back out front 29-25. The teams saw an almost two-minute scoring drought later in the quarter before a Joey Nitychoruk jumper brought the Bisons within three, down 41-38. The teams went back and forth – each calling a timeout in the final minutes of the half – but Alberta closed out the second up 47-42.
The Golden Bears extended that lead in the third, led by Clarke (nine points), Mamadou Gueye (six points) and Dwan Williams (four points). After turning the ball over four times and trailing by double digits for part of the quarter, Manitoba brought the game within four, after an Omoerah jump shot made it 67-63 in the final minute of play, but the Golden Bears added a jumper and a single free throw to make it 70-65 heading to the fourth.
Disputed fouls slowed down the game in the fourth, as both teams' head coaches stopped to argue and clarify calls. Manitoba eventually brought the game within three, after three jump shots and a free throw made it 88-85 Alberta, but those were the final points of the game. After Clarke stole the ball from Bison guard Ilarion Bonhomme, Manitoba's James Wagner took a blatant holding foul. Waddoups missed both resulting free throw attempts, but the Bisons missed two three-point shot attempts in the final seconds of play, and the Golden Bears took the game 88-85.
"It got to be a little bit of a chippy game. I thought the refs called a fairly tight game, especially in the paint," Schepp said, noting some of the calls benefitted the Golden Bears because of their playing style.
"We weren't attacking the rim with the same kind of aggression that they were, and they got the benefit of the doubt, and it showed in the free throw attempts, right? They shoot 21 to our eight."
The two-game weekend set continues on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
MB: Keith Omoerah (18)
AB: Austin Waddoups (31)
MB: Justus Alleyn (6)
AB: Austin Waddoups (3)
MB: Keith Omoerah (10)
AB: Mamadou Gueye (8)